Runners World Articles: Archives
Runnin' Down a Dream
Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could dream about how you want
to run, then somehow make that dream a reality? In fact, there is
a way. By replacing your dream with a realistic vision of what you
want, you can change not just your running, but your eating habits
and your body shape as well.
When you dedicate yourself to this process, you'll connect your
vision of the future to a series of small actions that will bring
your vision to reality. And as you see signs of improvement – more
miles, faster times, a shrinking waistline these changes will inspire
you to ever greater achievements.
The only equipment you'll need for molding your vision is a logbook;
in lieu of this, a calendar or spiral notebook will do. Then follow
this simple blueprint for building a stairway to your goals:
1. Survey the territory. During at least five
very slow runs in January, perform a mental checkup on how your
running, nutrition and general attitude have changed during the
past year. Immediately after each aerobic "meeting with yourself,"
find a notepad and jot down what you'd like to change. When I do
this, by month's end I've constructed a vision of what I'll do in
each of those areas during the remainder of the year.
2. Lay the foundations. In your log-book, write
your goals for each week of the coming year. But be realistic! If
you choose goals that aren't attainable, you'll set yourself up
for disappointment. Visions should deal only with behaviors you
This doesn't mean your aims can't be optimistic. But it's often
best to choose an easy goal, achieve it, then redo the vision and
move ahead to another step. Soon you'll be leap-frogging from one
success to the next. Here are some examples of reachable goals:
"By one year from now, I'll do a 10- to 12-miler every other weekend
(as opposed to sporadic 6-milers now) run the 5K in under 24 minutes
(compared to my current 24:40) enjoy healthful snacks instead of
pizza and burgers drop 1 inch around my midsection
3. Set up the framework. During your end-of-January
planning session, write in your log a series of weekly steps that
work toward your goals. To reach your desired long-run distance,
for example, plan to add 1 mile to your long run every two weeks.
Your speed goals might call for scheduling a series of races or
time trials, as well as doing the speedplay sessions necessary for
improvement. To achieve better nutrition, jot down the foods you
want to eat each week and how often you plan to eat them.
4. Build from the bottom up. Now the real progress
begins. Once you've penciled in your goals, mentally rehearse the
behaviors that will make each one happen.
To prepare for your endurance work, picture yourself slowing the
pace of your long runs, taking walking breaks each mile, feeling
good, recovering fast.
Visualize your speed sessions; see yourself digging down deep each
time. Imagine how sleek and fast you'll feel.
On the dietary front, see yourself really enjoying three or four
healthful snacks throughout the day while cutting the size of your
5. Perform regularly scheduled maintenance. Every
week, look ahead three to four weeks in your log. Each month, scan
the next six months. As you rehearse your daily and weekly visions,
you'll fill in more details. Modify them weekly as needed, based
on feedback from speed sessions, races, changes in your mental energy
and varying demands on your time. You are fine-tuning the structure
of your future self.
Your "running vision" is a living and changing mental and spiritual
environment. Once you see how to successfully turn your running
and fitness dreams into realities, you'll find you can apply this
approach to nearly every aspect of your personal growth.
World, January 1998, p. 30
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